What Comes Next…Is Living: Mid-week Musings

August 12, 2010 at 2:11 am (Hump Day: Mid-week Musings)

Cancer. The first time I heard it, it sounded like this. “The biopsy revealed cells that appear to show signs of being highly suspicious of what we would expect to see in cancer cells.” Although I can be dense at times, this was not lost on me. It was Doctor-speak for “you have cancer.”

Given my practical nature, my response was simple.  “Where do we go from here?” Thus began the journey of the past year that led to my recent surgery.

In the meantime, there were plans to be made. There were things to take care of and put into place. Not the least of which was the creation of a plan for getting the whole thing paid for so that I could get about the business of healing and moving on. This was no small task. But, I found a charitable organization that acts as a third-party payor for people with no insurance. There was a ton of paperwork, weeks of reviews, an interview and months of waiting, but I qualified. My specialist found a surgeon who would accept my assistance program. And, I needed to arrange for practical things like a healthcare power of attorney, advance directives, beneficiaries, and whether there would be someone to smuggle in real food for me to eat. I get hungry. And, I like real food.

There were things to consider as well. Things that were concerns. I have a family history of cancer and problems of the thyroid. Both my mother and her mother had non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My mother’s was in her thyroid. Half of the women in my family have had all sorts of thyroid problems. And, added to all of this was the fact that I also have an autoimmune form of anemia. The genetic tendency for this also came from my grandmother who had it as well. All of these things were factors to consider in planning for my future while living in my now…which I did.

I went about my daily life which consisted of searching for a new career, working at landscaping and whatever other work I could find, tending to my home, spending time with family and friends, playing at my personal interests, and trying not to give too much attention to the idea of having cancer. Most importantly, I continued to focus on things that were primary—nurturing and developing my growing relationship with Scin, my relationships with others, and my own evolving sense of self. I put my energy into the things that make a life. The idea of cancer and pending surgery became part of the situation of life, not the life itself.

Like any significant issue facing any couple, the situation brought with it fears, insecurities, frustrations, silences, uncertainties, and opportunities. And, it did for us what any serious situation has the potential to do for any couple. It brought us closer and made us stronger. We laughed and played. We talked. We bore silences and frustrations. We worried. We disagreed. We ran from each other and then, walked back, heads bowed and arms  extended. We cried. We watched movies. We held each other. And, we fucked like teenagers. We dealt with and struggled with the normal day-to-day things that couples face. We faced and resolved financial woes, car troubles, and larger issues like what to have for dinner. We read books and spent time with friends. We did the things that put together strings of hours and weave them into days, weeks and months. We waited.
My focus was the same as it is in regard to life in general: 
focus on the good, on what is working; do what is in front of me; trust my instincts and myself; know, every day, that the degree to which my life is good and healthy is directly related to the degree to which I am willing love myself and others; and–most of all–trust that God is doing for me, and will do, what I cannot do for myself.

However, over the months leading up to the surgery, a strange thing happened without my conscious awareness. Somewhere along the way, I came to believe the optimistic Doctor-speak that had seeped into their language as the date of surgery neared. “Thyroid biopsy is tricky…there is a good chance it is not cancer…false positives are common.” The plan my surgeon and I laid out made perfect sense and seemed like a good one: take out the right lobe, biopsy a slice or two while in surgery, and take the left lobe [and the smaller mass] if the results show cancer. As the date neared, I came to believe I would come out of surgery with only part of my thyroid gone.

The day came and I waited in pre-op with Scin and my mother. My mother sat in the corner reading while Scin and I flirted. She entertained me with toys that had randomly found their way into her bag when her son and I were done with them. We laughed when my surgeon came in to write his initials on my neck and review the plan with me. I reminded her of what I wanted to do should there be any need for her to make decisions. I held Scin’s hand until they wheeled me to the operating room. The staff and I joked as they attached one thing and another and strapped me down snuggly. The last thing I remember was joking with my surgeon.

I remember only a few things about waking up. I have a vague memory of hearing my doctor explain that he and Scin had talked and he had removed both lobes of my thyroid. I knew what that meant. But, what I recall about hearing the word cancer was that it was my own voice saying it. That I was talking to Scin. I was saying it—asking really: it really was cancer honey; I have cancer and they took my whole thyroid? Right?

She was sitting on the bed beside me, holding my hand. Nodding. I think there were tears in her eyes, but you never would have known it. My sweet tender Scin. The girl who so often looks to me for assurance and strength, who calls me her rock, who needs to know I have faith and all will be well, was holding my hand and holding me up. Assuring me. Telling me they got it all. Sitting beside me, silently, holding my hand. My mother sat back, watching, letting this woman she is coming to know care for her baby. Safe with them, I fell asleep for a little while. Once I was asleep, they left to eat.

For a while, each time I woke, I reviewed what I thought I knew. Each time, Scin greeted my questions with unwavering strength and tenderness. I verbalized my understanding. Cancer. It was my voice saying this. My voice taking ownership. Scin stayed and mom went home. It was a long night. I was sick for hours. Scin was there through all of the nausea and dry-heaving and the bitching about being hungry and too sick to eat. She has been here since. She will be here tomorrow. She will be here when I come back from my post-surgery follow-up with the surgeon. We will talk together about the pathology results, the recommendations for continuing care, the things to watch out for and do or not do next.

She will be here for what comes next. And, I will be there. We will be here for the doctor appointments and the birthday dinners for friends. We will be present when the other is sick. She will be here when I find the right job, the one I have been looking for that was waiting for all of this to be done. I will be there when we have dinner at her folk’s house. We will be together for family holidays. I will be here when her first book is published. We will be here for cook outs, and yard-mowing, and cub scouts. She will be here when a major journal actually publishes one of my poems. We will be present for putting energy into all the things that make a life. I know this because this is what comes next; living comes next. Doing the things that string together hours and weave them into days. That is what living is. Living is what is next. And, Scin is the woman I have chosen to be with when the living weaves the hours into a day, and the days are woven into months, and the months into years. What a beautiful weaving it will be. Beautiful. And, long.

 

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Thoughts While You Are Sleeping: The Mind of a Poet

August 1, 2010 at 9:35 pm (The Mind of a Poet)

Despite recent rejections of submitted poems, I continue to think that I might eventually get the hang of this poetry thing and I keep writing. Frost did say that “to be a poet is a condition” rather than a profession. So, once I got over the initial feelings, I got back to work on some unfinished poems and began work on some new ones. Clearly, if nothing else, I am a glutton for punishment. At any rate, this poem is a result of my return to my seemingly unending need to keep at this. I know some of you will notice certain elements with which I am still playing and attempting to improve my skill level. I feel sure you will notice that there is a an attempt to create an emotional honesty that is less cerebral and more feeling oriented. I can only hope this is working. It is new ground. Cerebral emotionality is easier and more comfortable for me; but, we do not grow if we stay in our comfort zones, now do we. As always, I hope you enjoy this offering.

Thoughts While You Are Sleeping

It is late. Your breathing, slow,
rhythmic like waves, seems to rock me
as I lie awake beside you; I want
to be soothed by this movement,
lulled to quietude—a ship harbored
in the sea of your restfulness.

My body resists. My mind

wanders. There are shadows here.
I watch them move and shape-shift
until they are gone like vapor

as the darkness deepens. I think

about the forces that will dispatch
shadows: how the complete absence
of light blends them into blackness as
well as the fullness of it lays bare their
falseness; I think
about the cloudy presence we have
endured, how at times it has cast
itself over us, fog-like, making it hard
to find each other. It seems

these days, as if the fog is lifting again,
as if the almost unbearable brightness
we shine when we do not fear it has
burned away the mist like Summer sun.

I think of practical things: the bills
that will soon be due, the list of things
I need from the hardware store, chores
and projects yet to be finished…

the smooth hollow where your thigh
joins your pelvis; the soft way you
look at me, still, when you think I will
not notice…

The sound of your breathing
like waves. The hope of continued
lightness.

As if in reply to thoughts so silent
you hear them, your hand finds my
shoulder and lingers there—I am
still here, your sureness of me like
feathers on my skin.

My thoughts, unspoken, lie
between us like the crumpled comforter.
In the morning, we will smooth
them out, pull taut the wrinkles
where they will vanish into the freshly
made bed like dreams.

NOTE: This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.

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Random Thoughts On Humanness: Hump Day

July 28, 2010 at 11:51 pm (Hump Day: Mid-week Musings) (, , , )

So, it is Wednesday again. And, there have been some things to ponder in the goings on of late. For example, Scin and I both have strong feelings about finding a place of worship with which we are comfortable and in which we can be ourselves…appropriately, of course. So, we tried a local church when she and her son were down in February and we went back again once we got her basically moved into the new house.

Now, this place [nameless as we don’t know who reads me…] describes itself as open and affirming. And, indeed, they are that. However, our experiences with them have raised within me the following question: is there a point at which acceptance becomes a form of discrimination? And, then, if there is a place in interactive exchange where acceptance becomes a brand of discrimination, where is that point; what defines that line in the sand of interaction? I should, perhaps, explain.

The church has a clear open and affirming stance and everyone is highly supportive of that. They reach out almost aggressively–which, itself, is uncomfortable. We were showered with acceptance. We were invited here and there and met with introductions to the point of feeling as if we were the long-lost survivors of a ship wreck, suddenly rescued and were being seen in public for the first time. I began to feel like an oddity. This feeling was increased by the fact that they are so affirming that there is a LGBT group within the church that holds social events that are also meetings for planning this, that and the other thing. In addition, time is set aside for “studying” what it is to be same-sex oriented, how that relates to being a child of God, and/or how it impacts our lives to be Gay or Lesbian. Topics and the gatherings themselves are all about being queer. This would not be so bad except that these events are essentially segregated from other church events. It is very much as if we and the acceptance of our ilk represent some kind of project. It is as if we are special in some odd way that is not so good. I was waiting for them to start passing out special hats and ID bracelets. Add to this the almost boundaryless way of greeting and inviting you in and it begins to feel very strange.

Scin and I gave it our best effort at church and at the LGBT cook out thingy. And, we even went to the minor league baseball game with the group. However, we came away from all these events feeling uncomfortable. We talked about feeling like a project. We talked about the almost needy and desperate lack of boundaries these people displayed as they reached out to bring us into the fold. We discussed being recruited, how it feels like they are trying to beef up the congregate and reaching out to the queers might be a good way to keep the doors open. We talked about not wanting everything to be about being gay. We talked about how what we want is to be seen as fellow humans, as people who just happen to be lesbians. We processed feeling like we are special and not in a good way when everything is about our sexual orientation. All of this set me thinking about layers of discrimination. And, it set me thinking about the possibility that we were not the only ones being sold short or minimized by that level of so-called acceptance.

I wonder. Do we not minimize and distort the range of human diversity and individuality as well when we single out a group with such acceptance that we segregate them from the greater community? Is not that level of acceptance as harmful as identifying that group as somehow wrong or unnatural or evil…or otherwise less than others? And, do we not harm any hope of true human equality if we elevate the minority at the segregation of the majority? If any group accepts us by focusing on and agrandizing our sexual orientation, does that not minimize our overall human commonalities and individuality as people? My gut feeling is that the answer to all of these question is a resounding “yes.”

I may be wrong-headed here, but I believe that there is a point where claiming acceptance of a group only serves to further separate them from the “family of things” [as Mary Oliver would say]. I cannot speak for others, but I can say what I have strived for and desire as a person of same-sex orientation. What I want is to be seen as a fellow human being on the path of being an actualized human being and doing so in the greater community of other human beings. My sexuality is not the only aspect of who I am; it does not define me any more than having green eyes or being right-handed defines me. It is a biological fact of my personhood the same way as those other aspects of self. It is not all that I am. To single out that aspect of my existence is to lessen all the others. It also, sadly, lessens my heterosexual fellow humans; it reduces them to being merely heterosexuals as I am reduced to being a lesbian. This a natural outcome, however, of the human tendency to focus on differences rather than commonalities.

It is, actually, part of our biological preparedness for survival to discriminate, to distinguish differences, and to notice when things are possibly amiss. Biologically speaking, it is part of the hard-wired visual, olfactory and auditory survival instincts we were given to identify things in the environment such as resources and threats. It is also a facet of the serotonergically linked process of herding. It is a necessary set of abilities. However, as we have evolved as a species, the need for this ability has changed. Intellectually, and psychologically, we have been slow to adapt to the changes. We do not discriminate between safe nuts and berries anymore; we discriminate between types of people.

For me, the task of equality for all humans is about creating opportunities for all of us to learn more about the process of being human, of becoming people, and all the many ways that is, always, both a universal and individual process. And, how wonderful that is. There is more in our experiences as humans learning to be people that is common, and bonds us as such, than there is difference. How truly miraculous it would be if we could advance ourselves a little bit toward recognition of this.  I do not want to be seen as special in some way that ultimately makes me feel freakish. I would like to be part of a community of people who see me as they would see themselves, not as a person who is lesbian. I would like to be seen as a person with many facets, qualities, strengths and limitations, gifts and likes and dislikes. Is that not what it is to be a child of God? I don’t know. Perhaps I am mistaken.

Regardless, these are the things I have been thinking about. Maybe I have more questions than I do answers. So, next Sunday, we will go some place different. I know the right place is out there and I feel sure we will find it. At the very least, we know what we don’t want and that is half the discernment process. We are looking for common ground, not special ground. 

NOTE:  This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.

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The Promise of Light: The Mind of a Poet

June 25, 2010 at 7:59 pm (The Mind of a Poet)

In my past few posts here, I have been discussing working toward proficiency with imagery–in particular, with having the images of the poem actually speak the concerns of the text…the point of the thing, so to speak, rather than dress it up. As I work with imagery, I am also playing with ways to  express those images and the overall signification of the poem. I have used before–and continue to work on developing–a voice that is conversational in tone. There are many poets who do this really well, such as Adrianne Rich, T. S. Eliot, and Mary Oliver, to name a few. I do not presume to have the art down as they do, but I do continue to work with this aspect of the medium. This particular poem went through many stages of evolution before ending up in its current form. And, it is highly conversational, as well as personal and intimate in its voice. My personal jury is still out on this one; I am not, as yet, sure how I feel about it. But, I do believe it works well enough to post it here. It may, still, be unfinished. I do hope you like it and, as always, welcome your thoughts.

The Promise of Light

 Not long ago, we talked through a darkness
of distance and difficult things, you asked me
if I felt like giving up—you were, I know,
really asking something else, searching something 

deeper. My answer was clear and, at the time,
sufficient; still, I have come to think there are
better ways, perhaps better words, to tell you

why I stay: first, there is the way your eyes
meet mine, the way the color deepens there,
then becomes a golden creamy brown and shines
like sunlight passing through chocolate-colored glass.

There is, too, that certain gaze which flusters me,
scatters my concentration like October leaves—your
kisses quench a longing thirst like a shallow mountain

stream. But, more than this, your laughter fills
the space around us; it moves electric on my skin—your
smile sparks; you ignite me like a wire and I burn.
Greater still, is your openness to life, the many ways

you see the world with interest, like the wonder of a
traveler always in a new place. Our conversation is
a kind companion to evening coffee on the porch.

It is true, as well, that your walk reveals the slight
unconscious sway in your hips, that it thrills me,
breathes a subtle hint of the welcoming I find there;
and, there is your skin—the touch that breaks me open

like Spring breaks the earth bringing forth all sorts
of bright blooming things. However, you should know
I choose you, each day, because of all these things

and more: the way, most days, we move together,
the underlying sense of rightness like dewy sunrise
after a dark night. This is why I remain, why I choose
to stay and risk—it is the promise of a coming of light.

NOTE:  This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.

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Reminders: Simple Things I know

June 21, 2010 at 11:47 pm (Through My Eyes) (, )

Now and then, I take little trips through my journals–take stock; look to see where I have been, and where I am, and gain a better sense of or new perspective on where I am going. I have been doing that lately. I have had a lot going on and there has been much to consider, reflect on, and adjust to as circumstances shake me on occasion. I talk a lot about the importance of knowing ourselves, of learning and seeking growth in all that we experience, as well as putting that growth to work in our  lives–in our relationships, in our work, in our faith if we have one.  I believe in these principles because, in very real ways, these have saved my ass–and, literally, my life–more than once. In all I have been through I have come to believe that most learning is really just a clear reminder of stuff that, deep down, we already know–that the knower in us knows.  I have been on a self-reflection kick lately for a number of reasons. Had a few things on my plate. In my cruise through my most recent journal and some other writings, I found some things I had written about things I have learned on my sometimes rocky road. I decided to put them here so I could remember them. If they help you in any way, I am glad.

Things I Have Learned and/or Come to Believe:
Love does not really conquer anything at all. Rather, love soothes, nurtures–sometimes with tenderness, sometimes with firmness, but nurtures nonetheless; it calms, endears, heals, protects [sometimes with intensity and/or aggression], and it strengthens both the lover and the loved when we allow ourselves to fully feel and live the love within us. This is true even when, especially when, we fear the vulnerability of doing it. Love does not conquer; it prevents the need for conquering of any kind.

What I freely give increases me rather than diminishes me.

It is never a bad thing to trust; even when it is broken, it teaches me and makes me stronger. It will, also, make me a better lover of others if I allow it to do so.
It is never a bad thing to have loved another. Even when it is broken, it too, teaches me and makes me a better person if I let myself be made more by having done it…if only because I learn what not to do to those I love.

It has been my observation–and experience–that it is in our deepest human relations, when it is most significant to be present, understanding and loving toward the other and ourselves, that our most basic needs and fears create our greatest mistakes–thus, it takes deep, but not unattainable, awareness to turn our fears and needs into right thinking and right action so the best in ourselves and others can be achieved. This is not easy. But it is a simple thing. And, when our effort creates the ability to perform this awareness, we walk in a light from which all regret, fear, and needless sorrow shrink.

Never eat at that hole in the wall diner, the “blue-whatever,” near Lake Norman again. Ever.

It is impossible for me to truly treat others well if I do not treat myself well.

Never–no matter how thirsty I get working–drink out of an old green water hose again.

I have value of an intrinsic and personal nature, if only because I get out of bed each day, do what is in front of me, and try to be a decent person who tries to make something useful and productive of herself. Thus, the more I can care for myself, the more I can care for others whom I bring into my life.

Compassionate understanding and forgiveness, in the truest sense of the their meanings, are only fully attainable when they are difficult to perform, when the risk to ourselves–our emotions, our comfort, our safety–is the greatest. It is in this willingness, this risk, that growth and significant benefit to ourselves and others take place. In other words, it is easy to be spiritual and live our ethics if we are in a cave in the desert. Real life happens in interaction.

Understanding and forgiveness have their greatest healing power [for myself and others] when I  transcend the circumstances of my hurt to look within and discover my own responsibilities, patterns, and tendencies with clear enough vision that, when I again look up, I see not only the humanness of the other, but aspects of myself within the other.

Remember when drilling repetitively to watch what the fuck I am doing with the drill; it hurts when the drill bit goes into my finger. Similarly, never take my eyes off of the table saw.

It is clear that what I reveal and demonstrate to others is more telling of who I am, what I value, and what my truth is than does what I verbalize. This is only true, however, for those who are inclined and care enough to look and to see as well as hear. For others, maybe half of what is shown and said is seen and heard. This is why what is revealed and demonstrated to me has always been measured against what I hear. What people say means less than what they do. Thus, to be honest and fair, I strive so hard to match my words, my presentation, and my deeds. I often fail miserably. I need to remember to forgive myself as I ask for forgiveness when this happens.

It is always good to give people ample rope. They will either use it to create linkages and connections; or, they will hang themselves with it. If I do not give them enough rope, I may miss out on the connections.

God is always doing for me what I cannot do for myself; the rest is up to me. I am responsible for doing what is in front of me, believing in myself, being accountable and making the best choices I can in order to do the next right thing. If there are failures or setbacks, these are either mine or purely circumstantial. God does not fail. Nor does God puppeteer me. And, often, when things appear to be going wrong, I find later that it was in my best interest, that I was saved from something worse.

Finally:
Sometimes, you just have to trust. Just step out on faith and trust the process whatever it is. Trust that there are benevolent reasons for all that happens. Trust that you know what you know, that your instincts are good, and that you and the universe have your best interests at heart. And, know that–whatever happens–it is what it is and it will be as it will be.

NOTE:  This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.

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Freshly Cut Grass and Sawdust

June 19, 2010 at 9:44 pm (Uncategorized) ()

It appears that our friend G [Can I Help You, Sir] has started something…and my wife-to-be [Scintillectual] and her BFF [Femme Fairy Godmother] picked up the idea and threw their two cents into the fountain. So, I figured I might as well do the same. There is nothing like a good wishing well. So, thanks to G, I have entered into the “things I love” category. I have kept a journal for years and most of the pages are filled with gratitude lists. I’ve not kept it up well lately because I have not felt much like writing about anything–not my norm–and I’ve been a bit pre-occupied. But, it is something I do in my head throughout the day. It makes me feel good and is part of my daily dialogue with the universe and myself. So, I thought it might be fun and helpful to do it here once in a while.  And, the first thing on this list is a big thanks to G for swatting us all into this direction.  Who knows what treasures we will find.

Things I love:
The smell of freshly cut grass; really icy sweet tea after cutting the grass. All sorts of jazz. Laughing. The smell of lumber and sawdust; cheeses of all sorts [except the ones with mold because they will make me anaphylactic]; really good steak; the highland and uillean bag pipes. While we are on the subject: I love my kilts [I have two] and the way a sporan sways when I am walking–there is something about the way a kilts lays, the pleats in the back  and the sway of a sporan that make you stand straighter, walk taller, and feel like you are the hottest, manliest boi for miles.

Good food eaten in a nice restaurant with a good atmosphere and good music. Time spent with my friends–sometimes there is nothing better. Christmas mornings and Dad’s french toast. Folk and roots music. The way Scin smiles and the deep light in her eyes. Working with wood in any way, for any reason. Working out. Watching the birds at their feeders. The smell of rain. Gently pressing my cheek into Scin’s cunt, savoring her, then quenching myself in her welcoming. Long, hard thunderstorms. Really well written prose. Scin and I tucking her son in at night.

Scin’s cooking. Cherry or peach cobbler. Playing around with my guitar. Hanging out with my brother. Trying to become a better photographer. Drawing. Working in the gardens. Getting to see my extended family once in a while. Gem mining. The sound of Scin’s laughter–well, really the sound of her voice, period. Board games. Irises. My dog; I love my dog. I love my parents and my brother. Sleeping with Scin: feeling her next to me, the sound of her breathing and the feel of her breast in my hand as I fall asleep. Each day a new beginning–the promise of growth, being surprised, and things at which to marvel.
And, I love the ability to be able to do this. To stop and be with myself and the good things that inhabit my life. The ability to be grateful. And, chocolate covered peanuts.

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Turning of the Tide: Hump Day; Mid-week Musings

June 16, 2010 at 7:58 pm (Hump Day: Mid-week Musings)

Well, it is Wednesday again. As you know, I have taken some time to sort some things out and deal with some pretty significant practical things. I am back from my little sabbatical and have some things to talk about.

Firstly, I would like to say that we should all be proud of me for refraining from using this space to get on a socially conscious and politically oriented rant about the awful state of health care in this country–particularly, here in the South. I considered it more than once…but good sense prevailed and I worked that shit out in my head, rather than prattling on about it here. Those of you who follow me know that I have been struggling with the health care system here in order to acquire some assistance for the cancer I have and need to resolve.  I have been fooling around with various attempts to get assistance for over a year and was engaged in a lengthy, nearly unmanageable application process for a particular program for people who do not qualify for Medicaid due to lack of disability. My last visit to my sweet Scin was so short because I had to be back for a final appointment to determine whether I met the qualifications for this program. I met with them on Friday [June 11] and left the office with my laminated card showing I qualify and have coverage. It took six months and virtually no personal, financial or health related stone was left unturned in my life by the end of it all, but I can now have the surgery I need. I know there are a few of you–members of my tribe–who have been standing by with me to see how this all played out and I wanted you know that we are in the good. I also wanted to take a moment to thank you [you know who you are] for all of your very kind, warm and encouraging support. It has been a big source of comfort for you all to be here with me–with us–and I am grateful. The best thing about having started this little blog venture has been the finding of kin and the building of what I believe will be some strong lasting relationships for me…and for Scin and me as a couple. You guys really are the best.

That said, I have my appointment with the surgeon on June 21. I may not talk much about all of those details here, but those of you in the tribe will be kept informed. Rest assured.

There are other things going on as well that are worth some discussion. It should be obvious to anyone who reads me that I have a kind of spiritual, quasi-mystical bent that runs through my overall philosophy of life. I really do believe that there is a benevolent presence in the universe that walks with us and works with us to co-create the deeper form and function of our lives. I believe that the only thing that separates us from this is lack of awareness–it is there in this kind of quantum, vibratory and pervasive way whether we realize it or not. Once we become aware of it, the movement of it in our lives and the world around us becomes so clear at times that it is overwhelming. I have said before that an example of this, for me, is in the way in which Scin and I found a way to each other again. My talking to friends trying to find her after our break-ups and changing phone numbers and addresses. My almost obsessional writing of poems about reunions and reconnections. Scin waking in the night to write about us. Both of us writing and practically speaking into being the thing we now share between us. All resulting in Scin spending half the next day after writing of us tracking me down. Synchronicity is a powerful thing. There has been another round of that kind of thing lately.

For example, a few weeks ago, Scin emailed an old friend to inquire about possible free-lance work from the company for which the friend had been working. The friend connected her with the director. What actually transpired is the very real promise of an actual day job doing what she does best. The phone call and discussion of intents and preliminary details came today. We are very happy about this turn of events. I am thrilled and very proud of her. It will be wonderful to see her working at the level of her talent, skill, and potential again. Meanwhile, I attended a job fair on Tuesday. I have always maintained that if I could get in front of an actual person, I could make the connections needed to at least get an interview. The job fair proved this.

I left there with several promising connections. One of the last people I talked to was the representative for a  national education and career instruction institute. She and I hit it off as well and she recognized the things I am capable of–more than that, she understood that what I need is for someone to give me a break and give me a shot at this career change thing. She was clearly impressed with me and said that she would pass my resume on, that day, to the Assistant Director of Education in regard to a part-time position teaching medical coding and billing. Yesterday afternoon–the very same day–the ADE called me to ask some questions about finer points in my background and basically phone-interview me.  As I was writing this, the Director of Education called me and we hit it off right away. We had a marvelous, but short, conversation and I have an interview with her on Friday morning. It gets better. The position is not part-time as we thought; it is full-time. [Some of you know what this means: more finger crossing, turning 3 times and spitting. It should be over soon guys. The developing arthritis should heal up in no time. LMAO]

Other interesting tidbits of the day are also significant. I met today with Scin’s new landlord here and managed to convince him to rip out the old, circa 1970s carpet and get down to the wood floors. Scin and I were concerned about the possible negative affects on her son’s asthma. But, mostly, Scin hated it–in truth, I did too. So, the landlord and I are going in on Saturday morning to start ripping out the awful carpet. It will be better for the asthma issue too. And, since I love the kid much more than I ever expected, I am very pleased. The landlord also is leaving the mower at the house because he doesn’t really want to store it and is thinking about a fair price to sell it to me. Saves buying a new one. He is a cool guy. So, I will not only be refinishing quite a few pieces of furniture for my darling Scin and her new house; I will also be making it prettier by cleaning up the wood floors. Ah, the beginning of the husbitch tasks can’t get any better! I love to tear things up and make them better.

So, things are looking up all around. Scin and I are finding ways to move through all the normal stresses of such big change and good things are happening all around. The tide is turning. And, for me anyway, it is all evidence of the marvelous–in the true sense–way in which the benevolent universe works. I’m enjoying this. Very much, indeed. I cannot wait to see what is in store for me…and for us as the journey of our life together unfolds. And, I am hopeful.

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Non-transitioning Trans…What? Walking Between Worlds

June 1, 2010 at 11:19 pm (Walking Between Worlds)

Clearly, this post is a follow-up to last week’s post. Not one of my better discussions–or better weeks for that matter. At any rate, there were some things I felt I needed to say if only for myself. I wanted to let you know–the few of you who pop by regularly–that I will be away for a bit.  There is a lot going on and there are a lot of things I need to take care of around here, with Scin, with the doctor, with job-hunting, with…well, you get the picture. Also, however, I have been thinking a lot lately about why I come here, the things I say and or do not say, and what is being served by my being here…I can you know, prattle on in my own head. I’ve been thinking about this so much it has taken me three days of writing and rewriting to get this post done. That never happens. So, I need to take some time to re-evaluate some things for a day or two–or three or more. I’ll poke my head in now and then to see if you all had things to say. And, I’ll let you know what I come up with in all my thinking and rethinking. Have a good week!

Non-transitioning Trans What…?? 

It would seem that some of the finer point in my last post kind of got lost in all the other heavier issues. [Thanks to all of you who have sent love and support. I feel it. And, it is good.] The playfulness and explorative features in the telling of my trip to the doctor and my choosing of language that more clearly describes the male aspects of my nature did not, it appears, come across as well as I had hoped. This happens. A thing works in your head and you put it out there and it doesn’t quite get to the place you want it to go…well…the map is not exactly the territory now, is it? So, I felt it was maybe a good idea to expand the discussion a bit. If only for my own continued clarification.

I have been thinking lately of some things Kate Bornstein says in one of her books, My Gender Workbook. [If you have not read this or Gender Outlaw, I suggest that you do.] Anyway, in My Gender Workbook, Kate discusses her belief that gender is really not the big question, that there may be other things in the human experience that are bigger. She presents us with the idea that gender is more like a play thing. I am inclined to agree with her. And, in many ways, I have definitely played with my gender all of my life. As I have grown, and—I hope—evolved, the levels of playfulness with and understanding of my gender have grown as well.  As has my willingness to play with the language about it all. Until recently, I thought for many years that I had pretty much figured out all I needed to regarding the issues and questions I had once had about my gender, that I had successfully reached a point of comfort, awareness and, yes, playfulness. I now know that this was partially true—I had reached that place. But place changes as we do. And, if we’re on this side of the dirt and still moving, we are changing. 

The changes in myself, of late, are related to awareness—to a more mindful being in my skin and a more mindful interaction with my partner. It is true that when the person we love also loves us in a way that is both understanding and accepting, we begin to feel more free to just be. To simply be as we are, be present, and be seen and experienced by that person. That level of intimacy is a gift. It is in that intimacy—in that being-ness—that Scin and I became very aware of the things in my physical nature that are not the norm for most women. I had spent most of my adult life thinking that my body was not able to respond to or really enjoy certain aspects of sexual behavior. I had, wrongly it appears, assumed that it must be an issue with my body rather than an issue with all of my previous sex partners—of which there had been many. [Interestingly, even in our college days, Scin was the only partner I had who was able to please me in certain ways; it seems only fitting that the new discoveries should occur with her as well.] Almost immediately in my reunion with Scin, it was apparent that there was, indeed, no dysfunction in my genitals. Clearly, there had been some degree of operator error, so to speak, which had in turn resulted in my repeatedly not feeling it was worth exploring ways to create a more satisfying experience. My current experience is satisfying indeed. But, it is also very affirming.

Through our sexual exchange, I [and we] have simply become aware that my body—as well as my psychology—is much more masculine than I had thought. I had always been aware that there were some differences in my body compared to other females; for example, I build muscle and body shape differently from most women. But, by definition, I was still clearly female. I now know that there are real male-like qualities to the body I inhabit—one which I, previously, regarded as truly female. I inhabit a body that is female by definition and form. I had always perceived my maleness as more of a sense of self—an aspect of my personal psychology and spirituality—than a part of my physical being. I now know this is not entirely true. There are many things—things I discussed with my doctor—about my body that are truly more masculine than feminine. It was nice to have my [and Scin’s] perceptions and experiences of my physicality confirmed. It is not all in my head; the butch in me is also present in my body structure and its responses. I am the coming together of many things into one personality that is more male than female. My understanding of my sense of self is deepening. 

I am, as are we all, many things. All of the things that make up the person I am are a mixture of biological predispositions, environmental influences, and experiences. We are all tapestries of nature and nurture. These aspects of self are relatively constant in that they do not vary much from a relative norm that is who I am; but they are also in flux—subject to change within the continuum that is my personhood. What I have been experiencing of late is simply a deepening of that self—a growing understanding of the form and functions of my physical self, my psychology, my intellectual qualities, and my emotional range, in relation to my inner self, to others, and to the world around me. 

I have been playing with language that best captures this deepening of self—this growing and evolving self understanding. I still find the language frustrating. This is because we still discuss gender in a system of binary opposition. The language we use to discuss gender and its variations is limited. Even the task itself is frustrating because I am not separate aspects, qualities, preferences, likes, dislikes, and characteristics any more than anyone else is. We are all so much more than the sum of our parts or the individual qualities and quirks that constitute our selves. However, we live in a world of dualistic thinking and binary codifications.

When I use language such as non-transitioning, transgendered male, or daddy for that matter, I am speaking about a deeper understanding of myself as a person who is, really, more male on the continuum, but who is still a female and living as such. And, doing so happily…more happily all the time. That is the overview. The non-transitioning phrase refers to the fact that I have chosen and still choose to not transition to a physically male gender. When I first, long ago, made the decision to remain female, it was because I did not trust the science. As I moved through my adulthood, it became more about the fact that I had found ways to be accepting of my gender, to find ways to enjoy it, and to play with it and to push and blur the lines. The phrase “transgendered male” refers to the realization that there are many very male attributes to my physicality, that these have always been there [without taking T or any other substances] and that I now understand them better.  It also refers to the very real maleness in my head–that is, in my personality and my personhood.

These terms, used in a playful but serious way, are the results of my search for a common, adequate language—a language for identifying and discussing my growing understanding of and acceptance of my more male attributes. And, I have been pushing at that language—hoping to bend it, test its boundaries, shape and reshape it as I do my own gender being.

The truth is, I realize, that it is not really necessary. I know very well who I am and what I am. And, I like who I am and what I am—now more than ever. I have a lover [soon to be my wife] who understands, accepts, and really enjoys who and what I am. I am enjoying the journey. I am enjoying my sexuality more than ever. And, I am feeling good about this increased understanding of the male existing in my body, not just in my psychology. At the end of the day, whether I find a language for discussing this deepened sense of self knowing that makes sense and is accessible to others really doesn’t matter. What matters is that I know myself a bit better, that I inhabit my skin a bit more firmly, and some of my previous struggles now make more sense to me. I am a little lighter as I walk this world. That is a good thing.

  NOTE:  This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.

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Being Distant: The Mind of a Poet

May 29, 2010 at 4:51 pm (The Mind of a Poet)

This poem is a new one. It is my hope that my continued work on imagery that both stands alone and represents other things is developing. It is, afterall, a particular element of poetry that separates the bois from the men…so to speak.  While I am not the world’s greatest poet, I do at least strive to create literary work that follows the elements of poetry. I believe it is, like any craft, a thing which requires some practice, some attention to form and function, to style and use of tools, and a willingness to learn, to study, to work at it. There is a cliché that states that a writer writes; that is, a writer practices. Practice makes progress. But,  truth is, a writer also reads. Just as the art student studies the masters, a writer reads. A writer–as opposed to a person who puts words upon a page to communicate thoughts–studies. I am saying all of this to say: you may begin to see that there is a movement in newer work to become more minimalist and more imagery focused. Feel free to let me know how you think I am progressing. I hope you like this poem.

Being Distant

This distance wears on us, tires
us as we seek to close it, move to
step again into the light of presence. 

It is a large, dark, watery cave;
we slog through mud, slip on rock,
become disoriented as lamps flicker,
our voices echo dully, words run
together like the pinging drip of water
all around us; we reach for footing. 

We have told ourselves, told each
other, these times are necessary;
there are things to be done, a way 

to be made. Like rocks in a river,
we are being polished, made smooth,
perfected by these separations. Like
pilgrims returning to a sacred well,
each coming together nourishes our
thirst, confirms us and our commitment. 

There is truth in what we tell ourselves.
Yet, the making way is hard; the tools
we use inadequate to move the heavy earth

between us and daylight. When I am
there, or you are here, we are deepened
like a tap-root pushing down for growth.
Apart, we cover up in the silence of our
longing alone, protected, and struggle
not to become the thing we must endure. 

In still moments, quiet with wanting, we
live with this being distant, and reach out
to touch through dreamy air thick like fog.

There will, soon, come a day when
the leaving is only dark cave-like memory,
when we will rise together in the same place
knowing we have been perfected—we have
pushed our roots deep, watered them well,
and sent strong branches high into the light.

NOTE:  This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.

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Coming Out In A Different Way: Mid-week Musings

May 26, 2010 at 11:49 pm (Hump Day: Mid-week Musings) (, , , , )

There are some things I have not, as yet, talked about here. I have decided that perhaps it is as good a time as any to put it all here and start talking about some significant things in my life. I came to this decision for a few reasons. One is that I need to be true to the venture, here on this forum, that Scin was so encouraging of and which has been such an affirming and validating experience for me. Another reason is that recent events have caused me to contemplate some things differently than I have been [this will be clear shortly].  And, finally, I have already begun to talk here about some of the related issues, such as my experiences with how the world at large relates to my androgynous appearance, and my gender identification issues. So, why not start talking even more openly about the big stuff?

So, there is kind of a story to tell here about some ongoing issues and why I am writing this. This week, I made an appointment to see my GYN because…well…I was feeling a little out of balance, so to speak. And, with a visit to Scin coming up I wanted to be all well and perky. But, there were other things I wanted to talk to him about–things Scin and I have talked about and we wanted to see what his take was on the issue. It is important to know that my GYN is a very cool guy. Very hip to certain things and just a hell of a good doctor. He also meets me where I am, as I am, and, interestingly, treats me like one of the guys in many ways. I wanted to talk to him about some issues I have never really discussed with anyone but Scin. Which led to my talking about them some here.  I wanted to talk to him about the gender identification issues I had growing up, how I feel about them now, and the possible roles of testosterone in some health issues I have not divulged to you here.  

Had it not been for these health concerns, I would not have raised the issue I was now bringing to him because, until my reunion with Scin, I never felt a desire to talk about it. It was one of the many things in my life that I had worked out on my own, adjusted to, made peace with and accepted.  I am a fairly well-adjusted person and I am OK with myself and my world. I actually like myself, just as I am.  Nothing to talk about really. Until, that is, it occurred to me there might be some bearing on my health. You see, there are some existing issues that only a short list of people know about and about which I have been silent.

Let me give you the back story here, if I may. About 10 years ago now, I began to develop some kind of quirky medical symptoms. Nothing serious at the time, but stuff that was annoying and needed to be treated. So, in my mid-30s, I was diagnosed with IBS, early full-onset menopause, chronic fatigue syndrome and ADHD. Well, hell…oh, look; a bunny…I could have told them about the ADHD!  Over time, things got worse. I began having symptoms that were musculoskeletal and neuromuscular. I started having serious fatigue. They tested me for MS. No lesions. I changed my diet, started working out more regularly, and got better for a while.  Then, about 4 years ago, those symptoms returned and I started getting worse. More checks for MS. Then, I got even worse. They began to suspect ALS. However, later, when I started to have seizure-like episodes and cardiac symptoms, they began to look at other things. Turns out, I was about to kick the bucket from a life-threatening but highly treatable thing no one had bothered to look for. We discovered I suffered, severely at that point, from pernicious anemia–lack of ability to manufacture or effectively process B12. Good news, as far as I was concerned. So, I started the shots of monthly B12 I will take for the rest of my life–so that I can have a rest of my life. No big deal. Most of the symptoms have gotten better. Some remain.

In the meantime, in 2008, I had an incident that caused me to need a chest x-ray. There were some incidental findings in my thyroid. We kept up with the little solid-nodule-bastards. They doubled in a year. Last year, about this time, they decided to do the biopsy. This revealed early stage cancer. As we know, I have been underemployed for some time and I have no insurance. I have been the last six months trying to get assistance to have the surgery and treatment I need. Because I am not disabled, I do not qualify for Medicaid. I have been fooling around with an assistance program in my county for several months. Over this period, I have not been feeling so great. I work out daily. I eat right. I take care of myself. Still, after a year and a half of B12, I cannot build stamina past a certain point. And, I am still working to regain the weight I lost over the period of a few months 4 years ago. I am making progress, but it is slow and is not great progress.

What has this to do with the gynecologist, you might ask. Well, there is a story to that too. As I have discussed, I never felt like a girl, never felt quite like this was the gender I was supposed to be. Like being gay, it was one of those things I came to terms with on my own. And, I have been able to be in this body, make friends with it, and be fairly happy. My reunion with Scin has made some of the finer points of my gender issues more accessible and understandable for me simply because, for the first time, I really had a place to talk about it.  For example, I have never very much enjoyed the way most of my lovers performed oral sex. It was like foreplay. Or, it was downright annoying.  I prefered attention to my shaft, rather than the head of my clitoris. Most of the time, it wasn’t worth trying to explain. So, I developed methods, as we all do, for getting my needs met and moving on. Scin and I have rectified this, thankfully.  I am very happy, indeed, with the treatment my man-clit now receives, thank you very much.

Since my relationship with Scin, I have come to understand my body a bit more…it is true that there is a second sexual prime in your 40s! Having such a hot and interested partner helps too. At any rate, due to Scin’s unique experience with those of us true-from-birth-butches, she and I began to put some things together. Our discoveries about the nature of my genitals and their preferences, our awareness of my body structure and the way I build muscle, as well as the obvious factors like my butchness and androgyny, led us to consider the possibility that my free testosterone levels might be, perhaps, a little elevated from the norm and always have been.  Given my professional training and my particular areas of study, I began to contemplate the possible affects that higher than usual levels of T might have on the health issues I am facing. I began to wonder if it might play a role in the continued fatigue, failure to build stamina efficiently, and continued difficulty gaining weight. I also considered the reverse: that I may have had higher than normal levels and that this was normal for my body; but that they may now be decreased due to the wonkiness of my thyroid. So, given the benevolent universe provided me a reason to go to the doctor and spend money, I decided to get my money’s worth and discuss some of these issues with him.

We talked about my postulations and questions about the role of testosterone. We discussed the fact that there just isn’t enough research to determine how it might impact my particular health issues, but that common sense understanding of T would suggest there might be some interplay. And, he agreed that it is highly possible I have, by nature, elevated levels. He pointed out there is no point, right now, in checking levels since the cancer is still in my thyroid–it would be difficult to know what is or is not doing what at this point. We had a bit of fun too. He validated for me the likely role of T levels in regard to the particular form and functions of my manly clit. [To avoid some significant TMI, I’m keeping that between me, Scin and my doctor…] And, he validated the likely affects upon the gender identity issues I have had and to which I have adapted over time. He was, as I expected, highly informed on the issue, supportive, and not surprised at all. We discussed the possibility that it too would likely affect my fairly significant sex drive and…well…the fact that I am kind a male pig of sorts. We laughed a lot. And, we discussed all sorts of factors in genetic [as in, of or to do with cellular decisions made in the genomes of cells] predispositions to lesbianism, butchness, and the like. So, although my GYN has been aware of my sexual preference and my androgynous appearance, he had not known about the gender identification struggles I had growing up. He knows now. That is one thing I came out about this week. The important outcome is that he agreed I need to raise these questions to my primary doctor in order to improve my ongoing case for increasing my replacement B12.

So, to sum all of this up, I am coming out here, in this place with you, about a few things. Firstly, I have a nasty little autoimmune disorder called pernicious anemia that I have to deal with daily. It forces me to accept that I cannot do some things I used to…or that, at the least, I cannot do them the way I used to do them. It is, however, OK. I prefer it to the other disorders I might have had. And, I give myself my own shots. It really is no big deal. I’m just not quite as perky for quite as long as I used to be.  But who is? Especially, at 46.

Secondly, I have cancer. There. I said it. In black and white. In public. Having said that, I should say that I do really believe it will all work out and will be resolved. And, I am all right. At least for now. If you are going to have cancer, thyroid is the best to have. And, it is early stage. My thyroid still basically works. But getting it taken care of, locating and accessing resources to do so, and developing a plan for getting it done, are intensely frustrating ventures. And, as the whole thing drags on, it does create some stress. It is particularly hard on my family. It is hard for them to watch me fight for resources and wait for help. It is very hard, too, on Scin. She worries. I remind her to have faith. I reassure her. And, I trust. I trust the God of my understanding is taking care of me…as has always been the case. [Example: perncious anemia vs. ALS.]

And, finally, I am coming out fully on the whole gender identity thing. No more baby steps. No more dancing around the issue.  As Scin has helped me to describe it, I am a non-transitioning, transgendered male–and happy in my own skin. [You can call me Li, by the way.] I have come to like and appreciate this phraseology. It feels more positive than saying I have never felt female. It is an affirmative designation. Rather than a negative statement of what is not the case, it is a positive statement of what is a state of being for me. And, I am happy as I am. I am happy in my skin–especially as since I have the gift of love from a woman who gets me and gets my body. It is so refreshing. And, liberating. [And, the many ways in which she gets my body and very hot, very satisfying…but that is another story.]

So, there it is. I’m out in all the ways I possibly can be. Oh, wait; I forgot one. I am a closet Elvis fan. There. All neat and tidy and out in the open.

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